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The career path of a ww2 softskin



As I happily attack the paint on my MW bulkhead, I got to (probably) over thinking things. This may therefore, be a daft question, if so I'll get me coat!

Taking my MW as an example, what would be the likely course of its army use? I'll try and explain what I mean: My truck was built in the latter part of 1940. If it was issued to a unit, would it have been likely to stay in that unit for the duration?. My assumption, for instance, is that front line units embarking for front line action would probably be issued with the latest new vehicles? My thinking is based aroung D Day but would apply equally to other theatres. If this is the case would the older vehicles be shifted down to rear echelon units? and if so what would happen to their equipment? Does this mean there would be war surplus even before the end of hostilities? assuming the motor industry is keeping up with demand.

So, back to my MW, built 1940, it could have seen either alot or very little service, depending on the user unit, but would it become a hand me down or carry on going with its original unit? Using D Day again (sorry), I dont recall seeing pics of aero screen MWs or other early pattern vehicles about, but maybe they would follow on later with support units etc?

Just wondered!

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Interesting question and one that must occur to most of us from time to time.

To try to add a little detail to your conjecture lets take the case of very early issue 11 and 12 cab CMP's issued to the British forces.

The first CMP's issued to the British arrived in this country in May 1940 and were issued to units sometime after June of that year.

These trucks had two possibilities,

1, perform home base and exercise duties until the parent unit was shipped out to N Africa with the 8th army and latterly with the 1st Army.

2, remain with the parent unit in the UK until early 1944 and then traded in for brand new 13 cab versions just prior to D Day.


In the case of possibility 1 the trucks would be worked to death or lost to enemy action, the comparative few that survived would then take part in the Sicily campaign where even more would be lost. The small number that were still operational would then take part in the Italian campaign. This is exactly what happened to trucks in use with my Father's unit and a study of contemporary photographs will confirm that by the time the British got to Rome they were using 11, 12 and 13 cab variants of CMP's. I believe it is doubtful if any of these trucks ever returned to UK although I have no proof of this.


In the case of possibility 2 the 11 and 12 cab trucks saw relatively little use other than routine operation and on exercise training schemes, they were regularly maintained and suffered no losses to enemy action. As a result when handed in prior to D Day the trucks were serviced and reissued to mainly Polish and Czech free forces that were taking part in the second front. These trucks would then be subject to front line attrition in Europe many were lost and the few that survived almost certainly all ended being collected and sold off from Darleen Dump in Holland again photographic evidence supports this theory.


The two examples above I believe explain why early CMP's are rare in both the UK and in Europe, the few that did make it into post war release sales I would suggest spent their entire service life as base vehicles here in the UK. These vehicles came on to the civilian market early as they were by then considered as limited standard in the immediate post war army, my 12 cab C15A was a good example of this being released early in 1946. Using the above as a model I would suggest that early war British produced trucks followed a similar pattern however the huge losses incurred as a result of the BEF evacuation has also to be factored in to the equation, I have no doubt that is why there are so few British 3ton six wheelers that have survived for example.


Interesting subject thanks for raising it.



Edited by Pete Ashby
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I wonder how much training would be required on new vehicles. Would they send the new vehicles out with new crews who'd been trained on them? It's probably more of an issue for armour, but I'd have thought a certain amount of support needed to be delivered with new vehicles and equipment.

Edited by Lauren Child
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Interesting thoughts for a topic.....

....around my district there were a lot of US camps during the war and many vehicles never made it back out of the area after the war..one in particular worth mentioning was a Jeep that for many years after it's second life had sat in a shed just up the road....the fella had been involved in timber work and he'd 'bought' it when the Yanks pulled out of one of the big camps in I guess late 1945 sometime..

....not just vehicles either...

.the camp just down the road from me was dismantled by the locals in the years after the war with everything being re-used in some way...My Dad recalls seeing fellas heading there with wheelbarrows and such..

"just off to get a door / window frame or whatever for my garden shed " etc !

The origins of 'recycling' I guess :D

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